What Is Meningitis?

What Is Meningitis?

To discuss the seriousness of meningitis you have to first understand what it is. Meningitis is very serious as it is an inflammation of meninges. The meninges is the system of membranes that surround the brain inside the skull. Due to the location of this inflammation, meningitis is sometimes confused with encephalitis which a direct inflammation of only the brain.

There are two different kinds of meningitis an individual can contract: with one being a viral infection and the other being bacterial. The viral meningitis, named aseptic, is the more common of the two inflammations and is slightly less impactful than bacterial meningitis. While bacterial meningitis is a rarity to contract, it is by far the more dangerous of the two and can even lead to the death of an individual. Due to this it is the strand of meningitis most often discussed, but many medical foundations are aware of both. Due to the severity of bacterial meningitis and the possibility of patient death, it is the focus of the majority of the current vaccination efforts since it often leads to death or survival with severe disability.

Causes of Meningitis

The bacterium of the dreaded bacterial meningitis resides in the throat and rear of the nose, and can exist completely unknown to the carrier. There is an estimated 10-25% of the population carrying this bacterium at any given time in America, and the trigger to take an individual from a carrier to a victim is still being researched. Viral meningitis can be contracted from polluted water, and can develop in those individuals with poor hygiene.

Both strands of meningitis are spread through contact with the bacterium. Methods of transportation include but are not limited to: sneezing, coughing, and contact with a carrier such as by kissing. Despite these methods, however, meningitis is considered neither an air-borne or water-borne pathogen. This is due to the inability of meningitis to live outside the human body for extended periods of time, something it would have to be able to do to be considered an air/water-borne bacterium.

Meningitis is contractible by anyone, and is seen frequently in the under 5, 16-25, and the over 55 age groups. While it has not been labeled as a seasonal disease, there is a distinct pattern of occurrence for each. Bacterial meningitis is often contracted during the winter months while the viral brethren occur during the summer.

Symptoms of Meningitis

Both forms have a variety of symptoms to their name, with the symptoms appearing in many different combinations in any given individual. Often there will be vomiting in adults and older kids, as well as severe migraines, high temperatures, fits, stiffness of the neck and other joints, and susceptibility to light. Infants and the young will express a fever that leaves the feet and hands chilled, neck retraction, and a staring expression. Difficulty in waking, and blotchy or pale complexion are also warning signs for meningitis.

The symptom of the most importance is the development of a rash that appears a cluster of pin pricks on the flesh. The rash will not turn white when touched, and are purple in color. The rash can occur on any part of the body and if seen is an indicator to take that person IMMEDIATELY to a physician. This rash is the sign that the meningitis has spread into the blood and is traveling to the brain to take hold. The bacterium will multiply exponentially in the bloodstream and is often fatal if not treated very quickly.

Symptoms of meningitis will vary from person to person, and will not all occur at the same time. With this in mind: if you find yourself taking someone to the hospital with the theory they have contracted meningitis, it is unspeakably important to try and describe every possible symptom to the doctor at hand. Meningitis is not like the common cold, as it has a very rapid onset once it has taken hold. This makes it even more important to watch for the rash when you believe you have it, and to watch for it on others under your care if they are showing symptoms.

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HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our blood alcohol, body fat and calories burned calculators.

The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years.

Our team of health professionals, and researchers use peer reviewed studies as source elements in our articles.

Our high quality content has been featured in a number of leading websites, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, Live Strong, GQ, and many more.
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HealthStatus has been operating since 1998 providing the best interactive health tools on the Internet, millions of visitors have used our blood alcohol, body fat and calories burned calculators. The HealthStatus editorial team has continued that commitment to excellence by providing our visitors with easy to understand high quality health content for many years. Our team of health professionals, and researchers use peer reviewed studies as source elements in our articles. Our high quality content has been featured in a number of leading websites, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, Live Strong, GQ, and many more.

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